Coles vs Woolworths – Round 1 On The Digital Court

The 2 biggest supermarket chains in Australia have been battling it out for years. Over the past few years we have definitely seen Woolworths / Safeway go from strength to strength but digital may change this. Over the past year or so the supermarket chains have shown interest and investment in the channel, but just who is winning the digital war. This article puts the 2 head to head on the digital court to see who is winning the online grocery war.

Search Marketing

Whilst Woolworths seem to rank for some important terms in number 1 position, Coles seems to rank for a larger range of broad volume terms. In addition it seems that Coles is actively combining its organic search strategy with paid search activity to provide them with greater share of voice in the SERPs.

Coles 15 / Woolworths love

Onsite Experience

Coles Digital MarketingMy user experience on Woolworths was unpleasant from the get go. I tried to locate my suburb, by typing in my postcode but the suburb drop down remained empty. When I was finally able to find my suburb I landed on the online shopping home page. Amongst other elements, the page had a banner stating “Our Great Weekly Specials”, so I tried to click on it to check them out however the page didn’t go anywhere. Locating items was also not an easy task, with sub menu’s a little invisible initially. Overall a disappointing site, one that does not match Woolworth’s in-store experience.

The Coles online store proved far more enjoyable. The express shop is a great tool allowing consumers to type in what they are looking for and then the system returns relevant matches. This combined with the product navigation menu’s provide consumers with different ways to shop. The site’s navigation make it easy to locate products in various categories however my only gripe is that the specials sit at the bottom of the search results rather than at the top of the page. Grocery chains spend a lot of money trying to promote specials – why would they not want to promote them online to increase impulse purchases?

Coles 30 / Woolworths love

Mobile Marketing

Coles Online have delivered a great iPhone application to provide shoppers with the ability to create shopping lists to reference in-store, search for recipes on the move, and identify local in-store specials. What I like about the application is that Coles has not just replicated its site, but rather considered what shoppers need on the move. Coles still seem to be however serving up their regular site to my blackberry so there is still some work to do on this front (as their site didn’t work well on my handset) but at least the mobile strategy elements that they have delivered are to be commended.

Woolworths don’t have an app that I could find but I was able to access their mobile site. At first glance I was pleased to see a mobile site – until I clicked on local specials at which point it served up specials in NSW, as my location was set to the Town Hall in Sydney. After resetting my location the site served up more relevant information. Overall I still think Coles have a very slight advantage in this area (you could almost say the ball was on the line and the call could have gone either way.)

Coles 40 / Woolworths love

Social Media

Woolsworth Digital MarketingIf all of the above wasn’t enough, it also seems ColesOnline is providing customer service help and responding to general feedback via Twitter (positive and negative) and promoting their latest competitions. At present they have over 1000 followers and the discussion seems to be thriving so they are obviously seem making an impact.

Game Coles

With a fresh new brand and pleasant in-store experience, Woolworths have some work to catch up online. Although recent statistics suggest online sales for Woolworths have grown 40%+ I think their onsite experience is probably hindering higher volumes of sales. I anticipate that Woolworths is probably working on its site and digital strategy so it will be interesting to see if there are any interesting developments in this space.

One thing however is for sure the match is not over – there is still a lot of game time. As a Woolworths shopper I do hope to see them move quickly in the space to compete on a level playing field with Coles.

Got any thoughts on Coles vs Woolworths online? Share them below.

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Google All A Buzz About What?

Google Buzz

Sooner or later Google was going to make a much larger play for the social media market. With over 1 billion searches happening a month on Facebook alone, and social media overtaking search as the largest online category – Google was threatened. There were talks of a buy-out of Twitter and other discussions with networks in the past but nothing came to fruition so Google has gone it alone.

Will you get a Buzz out of Buzz?

With the recent exposure of Buzz you might be thinking what I was – Buzz sounds like Google Wave right? After some initial poking around my conclusion is that it is like Wave except for one differentiating factor – it’s integrated into your Gmail Account. This I believe has been a smart move by the search giant. If Google is ever to crack this market, they know the only way to do it is to leverage their existing Gmail user base, whom already have established contact lists.

However despite all of the hype, will it be a tool that revolutionises the industry? Let’s take a more in-depth look at what the tool offers;

Facebook and Twitter SearchIt’s a bit like Twitter; Users on Buzz can post updates and decide whether to share them privately or with the world. As users are looking for more flexibility in social media to decide whom they will share content with, this might provide users with the control they are looking for.

It’s a bit (actually a lot) like Facebook; Users can share photos, videos & their status with their connections. There are some cool ways users can view photos and comment on content but it’s probably not going to convert the masses.

It’s a bit like Foursquare; Users can tag the location of their tweets and also view tweets on a map in surrounding areas. Unlike Foursquare where conversations occur about a particular location / thing to do, Buzz is more about general conversations occurring in particular locations and being tagged for user benefit.

It takes some elements from Friendfeed; Like FriendFeed Google Buzz allows users to aggregate content from Twitter, Picaso and a few other social applications. It is important however to note that users cannot feed in content from their Facebook profile.

My Verdict

The most under-developed market in the social world is geo-location social media and I believe Google could carve a good slice of this market. Outside of this, my view is the functionality is largely undifferentiated, and I don’t think it will be enough to draw users away from their existing applications. With Facebook now boasting over 400 million users, Google has their work cut out for them as their Gmail user base only has 176 million users. In my opinion this is one war Google wont win with Buzz and maybe Google’s last hurrah for social media. With its many failed attempts Google may have to sit on the social media sidelines and be content with integrating social into their search offering.

Want to know more about Buzz – view the official Google video here

Got an opinion on how Buzz will change the social landscape – would LOVE to hear it, please comment below.

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The Who, When & What of Xmas Retailing in Australia

Online Christmas Sale

With just over 6 weeks until the fat man makes his way down the chimney most retailers are in the thick of the promotional season. But are you maximising the online retailing opportunity? This article looks at the when, who and what of online Xmas retailing in Australia to help you ramp up your promotional efforts.

Who?

Online Shoppers During Christmas SeasonNielsen research group says that 38% of Christmas purchases last year were made online, with each internet-connected Australian spending an average of $224 via the web. However who is spending the dosh? A Christmas gifts survey conducted by http://www.itsinthestarsonline.com found 45% of Australian men have never shopped for gifts online, compared to 23.9% of women. From the limited statistics on offer in Australia we are able to draw conclusions that online shopping is a prominent channel for purchasing Christmas gifts and probably is more so for women.

What is however more important to consider is the role that online plays in the entire Christmas shopping process. Whilst 1 in 3 are buying online, many more would be researching their gifts prior to completing the purchase in-store thus it is important to have a presence online over this key season.

When?

Hitwise Electronics Search Trends
Hitwise Electronics Search Trends

Statistics from 2008 show that whilst retailers see the last 6 weeks as the Christmas frenzy, online retailing for Christmas starts to pick up at the start of November – this reinforces the point above that many shoppers hit the net to do their research prior to heading out.

Other popular electronics categories include; Mobile, Computers (notebooks and MP3 players) and Cameras. Headphones, Navigation and Set Top Boxes.

But electronics is not the only lucrative channel. According to Mastercard toys are another popular online category in Australia and if we look at Google Insights we can see search volumes for toys have increased significantly over the past 90 days as we move into the peak retailing period.

 

Google Search Insights, Toys

Further to this, Australia’s National Retailer Association has revealed that 1 in 5 Australian consumers will buy gift vouchers for Christmas – up by 7%. Google’s Insight search shows that one of the hottest places for consumers to look for this is online – with the growth in search obvious from the below graph.

Gift Voucher Google Search

Other important information: Statistics show that this year Australians plan to spend less at Christmas. A survey from the Westpac-Melbourne Institute revealed 35% of consumers are not willing to spend as much money this Christmas period compared to last year. With consumers being very cost conscious retailers need to consider to tailor their product offerings and messaging to suit those looking to save some money this Xmas.

Here’s Getprice CEO Chris Hitchens talking about 2009’s Christmas and summer trends in online shopping…

Got any insight or advice for online retailers? If so share it below.

 

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Are You a Little Channel Dependent?

Google Caffeine Update

In August 2009 it was reported that Webjet was cutting back on its paid search activity and was getting out of affiliate marketing because of its reliance on the channels. And whilst Webjet feels that its decision is also partly because of its brand maturity, I think this highlights an important consideration for brands in the online space – Is your online strategy too dependent on one online channel?

Google Caffeine UpdateChannel dependence is an issue that any online business should consider the ramifications of. Whilst Webjet has realised the potential issues before there have been serious consequences, other businesses have not been so lucky. A few years ago I stepped into an organisation operating in the classifieds sector that had a strong reliance on email marketing, so much so that it delivered 70% of their conversions. And tried as I might to change their mindset on singular channel reliance the powers at be were not bought in to increasing marketing spend to diversify. Only then, when site content dipped dramatically (which was the sole driver of the email program), did the organisation sit up and take note. The net effect resulted in a decline in site conversion of 30% in a 1 month period. Ouch!

And it seems in the world of the Google Behemoth that many businesses could be exposed to a similar issue. In a recent article in the Brisbane Times, Melbourne-based website publisher Joey Lee, who runs more than 15 websites, highlighted the impact a Google change had on his business in 2003. Mr Lee said “In 2003, with Google’s ‘Florida Update’ [a surprise new algorithm that dramatically changed search results and site listings] my traffic and revenue dropped 40 per cent.” So with a big Google update looming – Google Caffeine – could your online strategy be overexposed to organic search? Or with paid search inflation at spiralling out of control, can you business continue to compete in 12 months time?

The message here online marketers is simple. Whilst some online channels may appear to be more cost effective than others – consider the risks and costs associated with channel dependence, and channel proof your online strategy before your dealt a serious blow.

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A Social Step Up For Customer Service In Oz

Twitter Strategy

For years marketers have debated the positive and negative impact word of mouth can have on a brand. Negative customer experiences and word of mouth offline has always been a concern, but fast forward to today’s day and age and very quickly a negative customer experience projected through social media channels can cause a PR disaster.
Unlike offline negative word of mouth a poor customer experience captured online is;
• Real Time – Customers do not have time to reassess the situation, venting their frustrations immediately without further thought
• A Digital Footprint – A bad customer service experience is retained online for others to view for years to come
• More Widespread – It is largely believed that consumers tell 7 or 8 people about a bad experience – but online such a broadcast could be cast to hundreds of contacts.

However despite all the draw backs, one of the big benefits of social media is that organisations can identify unsatisfied customer experiences and nip them in the bud. And if dealt with effectively these consumers may radiate their positive experience to their wider online network.
Thus as social media usage has exploded in Australia, some Australian organisations have taken the brave step into the social media customer service space. So whose doing it and what can we learn from some of the social media customer service case studies in Australia?

PANASONIC

Just last month, Panasonic Australia launched support services through both Twitter and Facebook to enable customers to log queries related to products such as Viera televisions and the new Limax Life camera.

 

Panasonic Twitter Strategy

Their approach

Through social platforms, Panasonic has been able to launch its new camera Lumix to enthusiasts and have proactively offered support, to new Lumix customers, which from a customer service perspective is quite forward thinking. In addition Panasonic have made it clear that their strategy will not just focus on one channel but rather support consumers across some of the most popular social media platforms in Australia . However how can Panasonic improve their customer service offering through social media?

The Facebook presence seems to be largely unattended to by its customer service staff. Whilst only a few customers have requested assistance, it seems their questions have either been answered via a direct message to the user or not at all. In the customer service sector obviously delivery is key so this is an important consideration for Panasonic.
In addition Panasonic could consider promoting their new customer service options via their site to encourage more consumers to ask questions because at this stage the service is experiencing some demand but not high volume of take up. Whilst a strategy of inviting more people into the social space to raise their customer service questions or complaints could be risky – it will enable Panasonic to meet changing customer needs as consumers can interact with the brand by their preferred method of communication.

OPTUS
Telecommunications is one industry that suffers from a high level of customer service complaints, therefore it is no wonder that both Optus and Telstra have invested in social media customer service. If you spend 10 minutes searching Twitter there is no wonder why such a strategy is important for both these brands – with many unsatisfied customers venting their anger, a social media customer service strategy is crucial to maintain at least some credibility in the market.

Their Approach

Optus seems to monitor its online Twitter presence very carefully and by doing so it seems they are in at least in some cases turning customer informants into advocates.
Whilst Optus is changing many customer experiences from negative to positive ones, one in particular stands out. In a recent article published in Marketing Magazine, it seems Optus has been able to turn around one #badoptus customer to a satisfied one, who told his 4,268 followers that;

“You may have seen some of my past #badoptus tweets. Thanks to Scott at @Optus social media response team I can now say thank you #goodoptus.”

But have Optus got it 100% right? As Optus only entered the space in the past 4 – 6 weeks, one of the biggest downfalls for their strategy would have to be timing – with so much bad consumer PR being posted online, Optus should have entered the space sooner to effectively manage its reputation and attend to consumers needs.

For Optus coverage may also be an issue. For any brand moving into the social media space it is important to not just to concentrate on the platform but rather consider where consumers are passionately expressing their views, whether it be social networking platforms, forums or even blogs to determine how the customer service strategy can most effectively reach the large pockets of consumer complaints and customer service issues.

For Optus Facebook is another area where consumers are passionately expressing their dissatisfaction about the brand by joining or creating “hate Optus” groups, and this is probably just the beginning. However despite the negative feedback on Facebook, for Optus Twitter may have been the most important channel to tackle first, as the brand had been inundated with negative PR.
Regardless of their approach, for those considering social media customer service it is important to monitor the web and determine where conversations and complaints are occurring about their brand before determining the best approach.

Business Brand Twitter Strategy

Overall despite some of the improvements that can be made I believe Panasonic, Optus and even Telstra should be applauded for taking the bold step into the social media space.

Got any other examples of Australian organisations who are using social media to improve customer service? If so add them below.

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It’s A Question of Digital Leadership

Digital Marketing Leaders

An interesting article was recently published on eTailToday.com.au which featured comments from Joe Dittmar, IBM Worldwide Executive for Websphere Commerce. In Dittmar’s opinion the next 2 years represents a pivotal time for eCommerce in Australia, but the market is falling short. And why? Dittmar revealed the current immaturity of the Australian online retail market was more about retailers failing to take the opportunities in front them.” And for me taking this opportunity boils down to an issue of digital leadership.

This is something I broached a few months ago in a post – detailing “Why Australian Organisations Don’t Do It”, however Dittmars recent comments has made me reflect and delve into this issue further.

Why is Australia Lacking Digital Leadership?

Digital Leadership Starts At Board Level

Senior Digital Marketing SpecialistRegardless of organisation size, digital leadership starts at the top. Whilst senior marketing professionals play a very significant role, it takes a strong personality with significant drive to change a mindset. Thus in most organisations, for digital to be truly effective, the strategy must be driven from the top and integrated with the organisations strategic direction. Unfortunately in Australia’s case, several large retailers still do not see the sizable opportunity that digital presents. Furthermore whilst others have made inroads on the digital front – their lack of intent to invest in the digital channel is a telling sign of their current success. The lack of buy-in particularly at executive level is still playing a significant role in hindering the Australian market and ultimately will see some retailers left behind.

Mid Level Digital Recruitment

Many organisations looking to invest in the digital arena for the first time, are looking to do so by hiring mid-weight or junior digital professionals. Whilst operationally these professionals will fill the immediate need, they fail to create a vision and lead an organisation into the digital future. In addition these individuals lack the breadth of digital knowledge that enables them to educate key stakeholders on the value of digital to an organisation. So whilst technical capability is paramount, individuals do not have the clout to lead organisational change, particularly early on in the digital journey.

The allure of abroad

It is a well known fact that Aussies love to travel and with many lucrative digital opportunities overseas, Australia loses its talent to overseas markets. In many markets such as the UK, talented client side digital talent is hard to come by and whilst the recession has paralysed marketing budgets, digital investment remains strong. With a lack of opportunity in the local market for senior talent to progress their career, those with solid skills do make the move – and still continue to do so despite the economy – which saps some of Australia’s best who will lead the revolution. I spoke to a prominent recruitment agency in the UK this week and one of their consultants advised me they have had more Aussies and Kiwis arrivals in July & August than they have had all year which demonstrates the drain of digital talent from Australian shores.

Will Digital Leadership Be Forced?

Digital Marketing LeadersSo the Australian market is ripe for the picking, and it is positive to see that some of the retailers are taking the big step and leading the way. Apart from the pure plays, brands such as Sportsgirl and now David Jones have really begun to embrace digital, but for others will digital leadership come to late or be forced? Internationally eyes are on Australia, brands who have succeeded in their home territory are looking to expand and Australia provides an ideal online landscape to do so – unsaturated and yet to be monetized. A lack of digital strategy could be commercial suicide – so now is the time for those at the top (both marketers and senior execs) to lead the digital charge and make the important digital decisions now not just for the short term but to secure a long and prosperous digital future.

Is your organisation suffering from digital leadership? Share your experience below.

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6 Critical Success Factors For Online Retailing

Online Retailing

It seems that digital is high on the agenda for many with a number of big retailers bolstering up their investment in the online space. This will now become a pivotal time for the industry in Australia as digital will now need to live up to its expectations.
However for organisations embarking on digital a build it and they will come mentality will probably lead to less than effective outcomes. So what is a marketer to do? Start by understanding some of the critical success factors for online retailing – that’s what. Of course whilst critical success factors will differ greatly amongst industries, this article attempts to get you thinking about some of the big issues.

Online Value Proposition

As the online space becomes more saturated, consumers will have a plethora of choice. So what is going to set your online store and experience apart? Many organisations simply decide to replicate their offsite experience without adding value to consumers. Defining an online value proposition/s enables your organisation to determine how you will differentiate your online offering to deliver something of value to your audience/s that they cannot get elsewhere. This is what is going to drive users back again and again to your site. Refer to Dave Chaffey’s article which covers 6 C’s and 7 Ps to help define your online value proposition

Tackle the barriers head on

What are the key factors that will stop consumers from purchasing from you online? That’s the question you need to be asking yourself. For traditional bricks and mortar stores in an industry like clothing or footwear, consumers have the ability to view, touch and try the potential product but online this is simply not possible. So how are you going to reassure consumers that the decision they are making is the right one? Detailed product descriptions and interactive imagery displaying the product from various angles are key as is a strong return policy or product guarantee. All of these elements will help to minimise the obstacles to purchase.

Trust

Online Store Vs Brick and MortarBuilding consumer trust online is important even if you are a large brand. How many times have you as a consumer been ready to confirm your order only to find that there are added booking fees, delivery costs or some other surcharge? Hiding details such as these are perceived as deceptive and can devalue any positive experience the consumer has had until that point thus it is better to be un-front with your customers from the outset.

If you are a new brand in the market, trust is even more important to position your organisation as a reputable online brand. Consumers are still wary of online scam sites and they want assurance that they will not be deceived, and get what they paid for. As a result your site needs to demonstrate it is the real deal – make contact numbers, address and email details prominent, clearly display your privacy policy, ensure your booking process is contained within a secure site, and highlight any accreditation or certification needed to operate in the industry – all of these help to build confidence that your site is credible.

Defining Moments

Users will come to your site for a variety of reasons but regardless of their purpose, there are some core site functions they will interact with. Search is one of those functions which I would class as a defining moment because if I can’t find what I am looking for, I am out of here, with little chance of return. Defining moments however go beyond search, thus it is important for online retailers to ask – what are our sites defining moments and then invest in them. Invest in research prior to build, test the results and test some more – user behaviour can change overtime as can expectations thus continual optimisation is key. If your site can’t perform it’s basic core functions, consumers will doubt it’s ability to live up to its promises.

Fulfilment

A great online experience can quickly be undone with poor fulfilment, much of which stems from ineffective management of consumer expectations. Amazon.com is an example of a brand who manages its consumer’s expectations, enabling them to choose their delivery timeframes and also to track deliveries. A users experience goes beyond a site and strong fulfilment is what will keep consumers coming back to your site. Therefore organisations must ensure robust processes for product or service delivery have been put in place to deliver on the expectations set within the purchase process.

Online & Offline Integration

Some brands have made the mistake of running their online and offline strategies in complete silo, making it difficult for consumers to switch between channels during the purchase process. If a consumer wishes to reserve the item online to pick it up in store, then consider how you can make this process as seamless as possible. If the consumer purchases an item online and returns it instore allow them to do so. Regardless of your online strategy consumers will see your organisation as 1 brand – not different channels thus integrating the 2 into 1 seamless experience should be the ultimate goal.

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Where is The Innovation in The Online Travel Industry?

Content Marketing

The travel industry is often said to be ahead of the digital curve, and is one of the most lucrative online categories in Australia. So it is somewhat surprising to see that the travel industry is yet to truly innovate in the consumer engagement arena – particularly when it comes to site functionality.

Consumer InteractionWhilst I have held this belief for a while, it was interesting to see this validated in a recent article on eyefortravel.com which stated that the travel industry has some way to go in order to compete with ‘best in breed’ companies in the website engagement category. Whilst this was a European study I definitely believe this rings true for the Australian market.

The top tier players WebJet and Wotif and other market leaders such as Expedia have to date partly relied on an unsaturated landscape, strong acquisition strategies and consumer appetite to purchase travel online to drive online revenues. So whilst this approach is proving very successful in the current environment, increased competition could turn the industry in Australia on its head. Thus in a sector where the customer base is particularly promiscuous – switching brands for a better deal, a lack of innovation to engage consumers could be commercial suicide.

So where is the industry lacking?

Whilst the travel industry was quick to embrace collaboration tools such as UGC, many of the large players both locally and globally have failed to push the boundaries and differentiate in its use of this content.

Further to this, most sites are not providing the content and tools to support travellers beyond the booking process. Many sites do provide a lot of solid product content, however when it comes to content that supports preliminary decision making for travel – it never goes beyond basic destination information – thus where is the differentiation?

Content MarketingWeb 2.0 has enabled key industries to innovate in very engaging ways. Mydeco.com is just one example of how one player in the home renovations / furnishings industry has bought together a large range of products and combined it with inspiring ideas, 3D design tools and a plethora of community functionality. This provides DIY lovers with complete support throughout the renovation process and several reasons to revisit the mydeco site on an ongoing basis. Whilst the fashion industry has seen the rise of many social fashion sharing sites and community based applications. One such example is Kaboodle.com which enables shoppers to share and discuss the latest fashion along with finding the best prices online.

So what has this got to do with the travel industry right? Travel has one important ingredient that both the home renovations and fashion industry has – consumer passion. Consumers are passionate about discussing their travel experiences and planning their next getaway – but to date I am yet to see leading travel retailers and aggregators in Australia really tap into this and use it to improve brand engagement.

Thus I ultimately believe the travel industry must now push beyond reviews and ratings and differentiate their site through innovative content and tools to provide a truly engaging experience and develop deeper relationships with their consumers.

Those that do could prosper the most in the Australian market in the coming years.

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Traditional Marketing Techniques & Their Modern Equivalents

Web 2.0 Strategy

Web 2.0 has allowed the relationship between brands and consumers to evolve. The very nature of web 2.0, has provided consumers with the power to influence their peers and the tools to co-create their brand experience. This has and will continue to alter the way in which brands are engaging their audience. Traditional marketing approaches will obviously retain their place within the marketing mix, but with further digital fragmentation and consumers bombarded with brand messages, marketers must consider how to leverage the new approaches to outsmart the competition.

This article reviews some of those traditional marketing concepts, tactics, tools and measures and their modern day equivalents.

Concepts

Online Retail CustomersFrom Web Centric Brand Experiences To Total Online Brand Experience

Consumers are spending more time on the web – up to 16 hours per week in Australia, and yet we are working harder to retain users online. Consider the average length of time visitors spend onsite – 5 to 10 minutes vs the average time users spend on Facebook or MySpace – 20 to 30 minutes. Social media has provided users with their own web presence and this is where web users are spending their time, in their surrounds and with their community. Innovative brands will recognise this trend and maximise brand engagement both on and offsite.

From Brand Messages To Content Marketing

Long gone are the days where brands are trusted. Consumer cynicism is high and customers are becoming less responsive to brand messages. Brands that truly deliver value through content will prosper as they assist consumers to solve problems rather than push the organisations agenda. In addition the viral nature of the web enables consumers to share and review popular content with their peers, making organisation assets more portable than traditional advertising formats.

Tactics & Tools

From Advertorials To Personal Blogging

There will continue to be a shift from paid advertisements written and presented as editorials in popular publications, to personal experiences and opinions communicated by the new authorities of the web – personal bloggers.

From PR to Social News Sites

No longer is the news dictated by few. Social news sites provide consumers and brands with the power to contribute and vote on what is newsworthy making PR submission the traditional route to market.

From Email to RSS & Social Networks

Email is no longer a communication hub to stay in touch with friends, family and the wider community. Social networks provide a much more dynamic way for users to communicate and interact, reducing a users dependence on their inbox. As a result brands will compete for attention in saturated inboxes – so relevance will become key for email marketing.

From a content delivery perspective, email is also diminishing in relevance as users can syndicate content to their personal web presence – allowing users to consume content when they want and in the format they prefer.

Artificial Popularity vs Real Popularity For Search

SEO and Content StrategyEven though search is still relatively new tactic, search engine optimisation is still evolving. Onsite content optimisation combined with extensive artificial link building is not enough. The best brands will succeed in search through gaining real popularity online – providing consumers with the tools to share content from their site which can result in “viral like” inbound links as content moves across the web.

Measures

From Reach to Engagement

Advertising measures include amongst other variables “reach” of the brand message however did that brand message make any impact on your target group or consumer? Brands will move from reach to focus on targeting smaller audiences which are engaging with the brand rather than attempting to touch mass audiences and gaining little recall.

The above does not encompass all new tools, tactics, concepts and measures. Do you have any additional ones? If so why not share them here.

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5 Key Considerations When Choosing a Digital Agency

1. Who has got your back?

How many times have the “big wigs” rolled in to present you with a proposal to win your account. Only to find when it is all said and done that you’re just another unimportant client handled by one of the many account coordinators.

When selecting a digital agency – whether that be search, online advertising or mobile marketing it is important to understand who will be managing your account and in particular what their level of experience is.

You should also consider if the agency is best placed in the field to handle your account. With the online being so diverse, it is difficult for an agency to excel in every area of online – so drill down and find out what their true specialisations are.

2. Validating Their Track Record

Client logo’s and case studies are often presented during the pitch phase, but what is of key importance is to go beyond the information presented. It is important to;

1) Understand the outcomes achieved and what role the agency played within the process
2) Determine whether or not the client is still working with the agency, and if not why not
3) Not take their word for it, speak with some of their clients directly about the information presented within the case studies and the overall level of service.

3. Size Does Matter

An age old rule to choosing an agency is to match the size of your organisation/budget with an agency of a similar size/used to working with similar sized budgets. If you are a small to medium sized organisation chances are you will not be a priority to a large agency – thus will not receive the attention your account deserves.

Terms and Conditions4. Transparency

One of the key benefits of online marketing is measurability – but will your online agency be open and transparent with your account. For example on the paid search side will they provide log ins to your Google account so you can see what is going on? On the organic search side will they be honest about the techniques that they are adopting and on the email marketing do you have the ability to log in and see real live stats? Will your agency provide you with the transparency to understand what their resources are spending their time on – after all you are paying them by the hour.

5. Have you read the fine print?

If you do decide to use the agency make sure you are aware of where the intellectual property lies. For example if you want to move your paid search account, does your agency own your keywords and the bidding strategies? Does your agency have a conflict policy to ensure your digital agency does not work with competing brands?

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